At the Detroit International Auto Show, domestic automakers are celebrating a comeback of their industry. GM and Ford both saw profits last year, and the car makers are expecting a good year this year.
As more proof of the comeback, Bill Vlasic and Nick Bunkley report in the New York Times about profit-sharing checks that are expected to go to GM and Ford workers:
The two big Detroit carmakers will announce profit-sharing checks this month for their hourly workers, perhaps the largest in a decade, company officials and industry analysts say.
The checks are expected to top out at $5,000 at Ford, less at GM.
They report these checks "would be the biggest payout since the $8,000 checks that Ford handed out in 2000." Chrysler, the report says, is not expected to issue bonus checks this year.
The 2011 North American International Auto Show is in a decidedly upbeat mood.
After two years of somber shows, automakers are rolling out new products and showcasing an unusual level of variety and innovation. And they're bullish about how consumers will respond to all those new choices.
Chrysler might be the poster child for the resurgent feeling at this year’s show.
Last year, the automaker barely had a presence, and Chrysler Brand President Olivier Francois remembered how that felt.
Here's a video of Carl Brower, editor-at-large of Edmunds.com talking about the Chevy Volt winning the "Car of the Year Award."
Update: 10:11 a.m.:
Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody spoke with Edmunds.com editor-at-large, Carl Brower. Brower headed the jury of auto industry journalists who picked the Volt. Brower said:
"I think the Volt represents not only a break from traditional drive train technology, but a break from the manufacturing image. It's a hybrid plus. It's beyond a hybrid. And I don't know how many people would have believed that a big domestic auto maker like GM could pull this off a few years ago."
Finalists for the car award were the Volt, Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Leaf. Truck finalists were the Dodge Durango, the Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Forty-nine auto journalists from the U.S. and Canada made the picks. The vehicles are judged on innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value.
The NAIAS opened this morning for media previews. The show is open to the public on Saturday and runs through January 23rd.
Ford Motor Co. on Monday is expected to announce it will hire 7,000 workers in the U.S. over the next two years, according to a person familiar with the matter. Ford President of the Americas Mark Fields is expected to confirm the news at the auto maker's presentation before the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, this person said.
Consumer Reports says its subscribers ranked Ford second only to Toyota as the best brand this year. It’s a notable reversal of fortunes for both companies.
According to Consumers Reports, subscribing car owners perceive the Ford brand as nearly equal to the Toyota brand, and on the key factors of safety, quality and value, they rank Ford better than Toyota.
Ford also was rated best non-luxury brand in a recent J.D. Power survey on initial quality.
"This was long-term planning that is now paying off," says Jesse Toprak, an analyst with TrueCar.com.
December auto sales numbers are due tomorrow. It’s expected to be another good month for Detroit’s automakers.
After watching auto sales dwindle in the depths of the recession, auto companies have seen a surge in buying demand in recent months. December is expected to be the third straight month of strong domestic auto sales.
Ford Motor Company says it will add 1,800 workers at its Louisville Assembly Plant, once that plant is renovated. Ford is moving production of the Escape SUV to the plant.
Ford already moved production of the Explorer SUV, the Louisville plant's former product, to Chicago. Now, the Louisville facility will undergo a complete renovation, resulting in what Ford's Jim Tetrault says will be the company's most flexible, high-volume plant in the world.
At a presentation to the Automotive Press Association in Detroit yesterday, Michael Robinet, director of global production forecasters at IHS Automotive, said U.S. auto sales could reach 17 million in 4 years. Robinet predicts sales will exceed 12.8 million next year and 16 million in 2013. As the Detroit Free Press reports:
That would be a huge reversal from the historically low sales levels that brought the industry to its knees during the recent recession. The last time industry sales exceeded 17 million was in 2001.
Ford sales are up 24%, Chrysler sales are up 17%, and GM's are up 11%. It's been a good news week for the "Big Three" (can we still call them that?). Chrysler and GM also announced they plan to hire more workers in Michigan, and the Brookings Institution says Metro Detroit is recovering.
Here are some figures from a number-laden Detroit News article on auto sales:
Sales for Chrysler's Jeep brand were up 58 % for November compared to a year ago
Ford's year-to-date sales total 1.74 million vehicles - growing at a pace double the industry average
Ford's F-Series trucks were up 26 %
GM's big brand Chevrolet was up 18 % for the month compared to a year ago, its sales strengthened by the new compact Cruze and popular Equinox and Silverado